Friday, May 8, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron -- FULLY SPOILED!!

NOTE: If you have not seen the film and want to stay clean on all the details, you'd best exit these premises now. Because what we do around here after a week's courtesy is let it all hang out!

Doug: Today Karen and I will lead off with our own thoughts on the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and then we fully expect the comments section to fill up with everyone else's opinions as well. Should be fun! To kick it off, we'll let you hack our own personal email accounts, as we discussed the film this past Monday and beyond. I viewed a 4:00 pm showing on May 4, and we began hashing out the details a few hours afterward. Here goes, edited for conversational purposes --

Doug: Wow. I'll start with that.

Doug: I'm not sure how anyone is thinking Age of Ultron was not as good as the first one. First off, there was no set up in this one, no characters-meeting-each-other as in the first. Secondly, there's now an assumption on the part of the film makers that those coming to these things have seen the previous pictures. So no backstory on Baron Strucker or the Maximoff twins. It was assumed that everyone knows what the scepter is, and has a working knowledge of the Infinity Stones. All of that together allowed the creators to move characterization forward with no obligations.

Doug: I thought Hawkeye was obviously very improved from the first film, even though he's not "our" Hawkeye. It was nice that his wife (totally did not see that one coming) even called him that. We got more on the Black Widow - the scene where she tells Banner about the final initiation to become a Russian assassin was chilling. Banner himself was well-played.

Karen: I actually liked Hawkeye this time around, although I'm not all that fond of Jeremy Renner. Hawkeye is not much like the comic version, but at least he had personality. He was obviously the 'window' character or normal guy. I wondered if he might get killed off after we saw his family.

Doug: I know -- I was waiting for some carnage if and when Ultron located our hiding heroes. And Captain America could not be better. The stunts are incredible, and Chris Evans nails his fighting will. Perfect. Just perfect. Likewise, Robert Downey continues to excel as Iron Man. Really, I have no complaints about the casting. I thought it was a great touch that Wanda and Pietro spoke with Eastern European accents. But Cap won the day in this film as the Hulk had in the first one.

Karen: I agree with you about Cap -it's hard to believe I ever had doubts that Chris Evans could play this role. He embodies it so well. He carries the authority, the seriousness, the play-calling. Yet he also has humor. He and Downey work well together. I like that Cap's vision (as I read it) was that essentially, his fears came true, and he's still here -lonely maybe, but here. And by seeing Stark's vision -his fear of another invasion, his feeling that he should be doing something to protect the world, and his friends, we have reason to understand his behavior. He's carrying an awful lot of weight on his shoulders. As was pointed out in the film, he doesn't have to carry it alone. I'm not sure he really gets it though. I was surprised how the Big Three were all buddy-buddy again at the end. Stark was really responsible for everything, via Ultron. I wonder if this will come up again, perhaps in Civil War?

Doug: If I have a criticism, it's that the reaction to Stark and his machinations was odd. At first we get Banner trying to talk him out of it, then we get Thor grabbing him by the throat, then a little general disgust from the team. But you're right - by the end it seems like "Oh well, all's well that ends well!" And... can't remember which character, but someone had a great line about the dichotomy in Stark's personality.

Karen: Was it Wanda's comment about Ultron not knowing the difference between saving the world and destroying it, and where did that come from (Stark)?

Doug: That's it! I thought that whole point was a nice way to tie a bow on what began as Stark's mission in the first Iron Man picture and that the fall-out was still being felt here in what is probably a few years later.

Karen: I would have liked to have seen Hulk interact with his team-mates more (other than Widow). Also, he never spoke at all. Dang!

Doug: Yes, I've grown a little impatient with the movie Hulk being all-berserker, all-the-time. I miss the Bronze Age Hulk. What did you think of the big Hulk-Hulkbuster battle, when the under-construction building came tumbling down? Two things immediately crossed my mind: a) 9-11 is still a raw nerve, and that scene was way too close, as was some of the imagery in Man of Steel, and b) speaking of Man of Steel, I thought it was a bit of a dig at that film when Iron Man checked his bio-sensors to determine that there were no humans in that structure before he carried out his plot. Touche`, DC!

Karen: I thought that through-out the film, it was stressed that the Avengers were trying to protect and save people, and while I think this is exactly what super-heroes should be doing, I wondered if some of this was a dig at Man of Steel. You're not the first person to mention 9-11 but honestly, I didn't think about that while watching it -I just thought that it seemed highly unlikely that a building coming down, even an unoccupied one, wouldn't cause deaths, in a busy city block. But, after seeing it twice, it's clear that Iron Man was trying to get Hulk out of the city -he just wouldn't cooperate. I have to say, this sequence did have a couple of great laughs. The rapid-fire punching and "go to sleep go to sleep go to sleep" was hilarious, as was the part where Iron Man whacks Hulk with the elevator and Hulk then spits out a tooth and gives Iron Man an angry look, which causes Stark to meekly say, "I'm sorry."

Doug: Yes, those were great moments. For the Hulk, that was about it, though, as he was not the major player at the end of the film that I'd wondered if he'd be. But there's just no way Ultron would have stood that abuse for very long, so the Hulk was conveniently away from the main fracas.

Doug: The Vision -- wow. Give me more. Please.

Karen: Is it possible that Marvel has given Adam Warlock's 'role' to the Vision? The Vision basically comes out of a "cocoon," has an infinity gem on his forehead, and when asked, proclaims that he is on the side of life, very much as Warlock was a champion of life.  So with the Vision around, what point would there be in introducing Warlock now -or at least, the version of Warlock that we all know? Why have two characters that seem to serve the same narrative purpose?

Karen: That said, I loved the Vision, was immensely pleased with what they did with him, and thought Paul Bettany did a fantastic job. The conversation between he and Ultron at the very end -"I think you missed that" - was just perfect.

Doug: Two things I would suggest in favor of Warlock: if the Vision is going to be a stand-in, then why have we seen the so-obvious-it's Warlock's-cocoon in two scenes with the Collector? Also, rumors were running rampant that they were going to make Warlock be Peter Quill's long lost father. Being stuck in a cocoon would certainly qualify one for being "long lost". Just my thoughts.

Karen: I know, they might still have Warlock. But the cocoon in GotG was never confirmed as Warlock's, and the director of GotG II (James Gunn, same guy who directed the first one) has said Warlock will not be in it , although that could be misdirection. However, it seems unlikely that they would have two guys who are artificially constructed men running around with infinity gems on their heads. Unless you make Warlock just an alien, and remove the soul gem from his head. But if they start tampering with his origin too much, then is he really Warlock? Another reason I think this Vision is "more" than just our old android: he lifted Thor's hammer! Come on! He must be meant for great things -like facing Thanos perhaps?

Doug: I thought the contest to lift Mjolnir was a great way to tie the film together. Did you notice Thor's face when Cap got it to ever-so-slightly budge? And I really liked the banter between Thor and the Vision on the weight distribution of the hammer. Classic stuff.

Karen: The hammer lifting challenge was a nice teambuilding moment. Of all of them, Cap is the only one who should be able to lift it (and did in the comics). I liked that shot of Thor and Vision standing on the balcony speaking - the two of them are so different from the rest of the team. With the gem, this Vision is probably far more powerful than the comic version, putting him on Thor's level or even greater, I think.

Doug: Additionally, we are missing "one for the thumb", so to speak. Am I missing an Infinity Gem, because I think I am:
Gem from the scepter, now possessed by the Vision
The stone from GotG
Doug: Doesn't that leave one more? All of that is not to say that you have a bad argument, and our readers may like that theory.

Karen: Your list is correct as I recall. I'm not sure how many gems they plan to have in the films. In the comics there were six. I believe the Collector names them all in GotG but I'd have to go back and watch that to be sure. But so far I think we have only seen four, and Thor sees four in his vision. Actually, it seems sort of odd that Thanos gave Loki that scepter that had a gem in it. Didn't he know the gem was there? Why give it away? I guess he expected Loki to win and he would get the scepter (and stone) back.

Doug: Ultron was certainly different than I'd anticipated, but it worked for me after just a little while. I liked his size and ruthlessness. His ability to fly was an added wrinkle of sinister proportions. I thought his plan was a good one. Hey, did you think it might end in the scene from Avengers #159 when Thor, Wonder Man, Iron Man, and the Vision catch the falling city that Graviton had lifted? I wasn't disappointed in this outcome, but I was wondering.

Karen: I had some difficulty with Spader's portrayal -a little too goofy for me at times. Overall it was quite good but there were times I was thinking of Spader and not Ultron. I do wish they had used HB's suggestion of having Stark's personality integrated into Ultron. I did like when he freaked out about Klaw saying "You're one of Stark's" - a little close to the bone.

Doug: It took me awhile to get used to the fact that Ultron has a malleable mouth. That he could make facial expressions seemed weird.

Karen: Yes, that kind of threw me too -it looked cartoonish at times. I did wonder if the way he looked when he first met the twins was a call-out to his first appearance as "The Crimson Cowl" -he was draped with that reddish scarf or whatever it was. That scene really seemed odd -there was no set up for it, the twins just show up in the church. I felt that there had been some heavy editing there for sure, and in a few other spots. We know that about an hour was chopped out, and I guess Thor's visions were also cut back heavily -I heard an interview with Joss Whedon who said that originally Thor contacted the Norns but they had to delete almost all of that.

Doug: Apparently Loki was to have been in that scene, but Heimdall ended up standing in -- they couldn't get Tom Hiddleston when they needed him for filming but Idris Elba was available (or some such thing). I, too, noticed the Crimson Cowl reference, which was also somewhat appropriate as it occurred just after Ultron usurped the JARVIS software -- remember, Jarvis was a dupe for Ultron in the mad robot's first appearance!

Doug: The church scene overall seemed more appropriate for a first look at Dr. Doom than it did for Ultron.

Karen: Biggest geeky moment for me was seeing Thor, Vision, and Iron Man all blast Ultron together. That was just so comic booky! 

Doug: Awesome to see the Helicarrier back. Fury had a larger role -- he made a nice comeback as well.

Karen: Where the heck was Fury hiding a helicarrier? It was fun seeing War Machine in action there but I would've liked to see Falcon too.

Doug: I also thought the Falcon would be in that scene. And I guess I was surprised that we didn't get even a brief look or mention of the Black Panther. What did you think of the scene with Klaw? I'll be honest -- the sound in the theater I attended isn't always all that great and I had a difficult time picking up all of the dialogue in that part of the film.

Karen: What did you think of Quicksilver dying? I guess they have more than enough characters. But it didn't have much emotional impact for me.

Doug: I was surprised -- kept waiting for him to get up. Before that, I assumed he'd zip by and display a handful of bullets to Hawkeye. I've read that every draft of the script had him dying at the end... however, they did shoot an alternate ending where he survives in order to "throw people off" so that there'd be no leaks about that aspect of the film. I didn't feel like we got to know him enough that I'd care. Did you catch the split second when Wanda and the Vision gazed into one another's eyes?

Karen: When the Vision swoops down and saves Wanda? That was thrilling! Although none of the actors will discuss it, it seems as though they are headed towards some sort of relationship for those two, which should be interesting. I wonder what people will make of it.

Doug: Personally, I agree with Maria Hill -- "she's weird". So I'm thinking it could actually be less of a problem in the films than it ever was in the comics! Seriously, I just couldn't warm to either Wanda or Pietro. Their transformation from bad to good was way too quick. But then, give that an hour's worth of film was allegedly cut could have something to do with that. Wonder if there will be a director's cut?

Doug: So that being said, I did think there were some cool "Kooky Quartet" moments, although I don't believe the four of them were ever actually together in one scene. Hawkeye's pep talk to Wanda was inspiring, but again -- it only works coming from the MCU Clint. "Our" guy would have been looking down her blouse!

Karen:Yes, it would've been nice to see the Kooky Quartet all together for one scene. That felt like a missed opportunity to me. 
Doug: That Marvel has managed to weave together this universe is amazing. So many characters from so many films, and even with a spoken nod or a few minutes of screen time, it really begins to feel like the comic books.

Karen: While I enjoy that aspect of it -the complex universe -I do start to have concerns that the films are becoming over-stuffed, and perhaps having to spend too much time setting up future films. Being a comics fan I have no real trouble following who's who and such but I wonder if it becomes overly complicated for a general audience? I know I always felt completely lost at Harry Potter films, for example.

Doug: I am so excited to see this again, and am looking forward to Civil War (I sort of like the depowered "New Avengers"). Although in answer to your concern, today (Thursday, 7 May 2015) it was announced that Civil War will included everyone in the MCU (including the cast from Winter Soldier) except Thor and the Hulk. Spider-Man is supposed to appear, but I don't believe in a major role. That's a whole lot of heroes and baddies!

Karen: Basically, Captain America: Civil War will be another Avengers film! What did you think of the new Avengers line-up at the end? Although I will miss Hulk and Iron Man (and Thor, but I consider him "off on assignment"), I kind of like the changes. It's just like the way the line ups would change every so often in the comic. This line-up still has some power too -Vision is up there, and I would say Wanda is too, based on what she did versus Ultron. Her powers actually reminded me more of the early Phoenix (pre-Dark Phoenix). We also have War Machine. It was great to see Falcon there too. By the time the next Avengers film rolls around, we might also have Spider-Man, the Panther, and Capt. Marvel!

Doug: Well, before the Infinity Gauntlet storyline is over I think we'll see something akin to the Korvac Saga where it's all comers versus the mad Titan. As I said several months ago, I cannot wait for a scene with Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and the Hulk! But in answer to your question, I did like the new line-up. And doggone it if Cap didn't almost say "Avengers Assemble!" But not quite... But I still smiled.


Abe Lucas said...

I thought that Spader played Ultron well, even if during the first time I saw AOU I kept thinking of "Blaine" from Pretty in Pink. However, since this incarnation of Ultron was based on Stark, the smarmy remarks of his character works for me.

I agree that Cap was magnificent in this one. I love how his sense of humor is completely consistent with the character. It manages to be dry, self-deprecating, and knowing. Perfect characterization and the script did well by him.

Loved Wanda and Pietro. Don't you guys remember what an insufferable backside this guy was in the comics? ;) He's much easier to take here. As for Wanda, I spent most of the film trying to decide whether she or ScarJo was the more gorgeous; I settled on a draw. ;)

Hulk's battle with Iron Man great. I do hope Hulk is sidelined for the rest of the series; I think his being dialed out for much of the end battle was a good thing. Nothing against him or the actor--who was quite good--but I like my Avengers sans the Hulk.

Wakanda being mentioned was great. One of the few music motifs was the "jungle drum" cue that played as the camera swept over the beached tankers--and the scene with Ulysses Klaue is one I enjoyed immensely.

More to follow as I read and process everyone's remarks.

William said...

Great review, but I don't have time right now for a full comment, but I will say that there are supposed to be SIX Infinity Gems in the Marvel Movie Universe (just like in the comics).

In GOTG The Collector said that in the beginning there were 6 singularities, then they exploded and formed the known universe. He then said the Gems were the concentrated remnants of those 6 singularities.

Abe Lucas said...

I neglected to mention that The Vision was superb! He was played perfectly. The way Paul Bettany spoke the lines and the very sound of his voice is how I've imagined the character sounding all these years. This was a huge plus for me as I had no clue about really anything that was to happen Age of Ultron, as I avoid spoilers for all movies I am interested in seeing.

An amusing footnote to the second time I saw AOU: After the teaser finished, some guy behind me stood up and cockily and dryly uttered for all to hear: "Galactus!"

J.A. Morris said...

I agree with C.K., during the final battle (before his death) I found myself thinking "this movie is doing the impossible-making Quicksilver a likeable character!"

Redartz said...

Very nice, in depth review, Karen and Doug! You covered all the bases, and then some...

I thoroughly enjoyed the film. The Vision was excellently portrayed, and looked perfect. Also thought Wanda and Pietro came off well. I was having a blast trying to catch all the
Easter eggs and quick references, and touches like the Vision/Wanda moment. Plus, there was the added fun of providing ongoing explanations to my wife's questions (in a whisper, of course). Only downside I felt upon seeing the movie: had difficulty following the dream/hallucination sequences. Apparently I will need to see the film again (and again, and again...).

Doug said...

As Karen mentioned about Wanda, it's interesting to see the powersets these "new" characters received. I think after all the years of Marvel creators not defining Wanda's powers, simply making her a revved-up Marvel Girl seemed to work.

As to the Vision, I don't know what was going on with him, but I loved it. I'm not sure his "look" wasn't still changing as the film ended! He seemed to be able to organically control his clothing. Ah, the wonders of an Infinity Gem.


Anonymous said...

The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways...

Doug said...

Here's a question from a discussion I was having with my son earlier today: What about the Infinity Gauntlet that we saw in Odin's trophy room in the first Thor film?

Concerning the Hulk -- in that Stan Lee interview Karen linked to last week, he expressed his reservations with the size and strength of the MCU version of the character. I agree that it's a real problem, and agree that it's the reason "the other guy" was left out of that last scene.


Martinex1 said...

I loved the movie. It was really fun to see the Avengers in action again.

Here are some things I really enjoyed and geeked about:

1) Quinjet. They didn't play it up much but I thought it was perfect.
2) Vision. Paul Bettany did a great job. And I thought the costume and characterization were really pretty faithful. I liked how Vision looked at Thor and then created his own cape. That was a nice touch.
3) Wanda's powers. I liked the "creepy" aspect. I never really thought about it before, but I like the "witch" element. When she attacks Tony early on, it was scary in a sense.
4) The desire to keep civilians safe. As mentioned, in many scenes they acted clearly heroically and risked their own safety to save everybody. That was the whole point of the scene with Hawkeye and Quicksilver at the end. Their lives were less important than the people they protected. I agree this was probably a poke at the DC movies as well.
5) Klaw. I cannot wait for Andy Serkis to do some CGI on the villain, and replace his missing arm with the sonic device.
6) The New Team. It will be nice to see some new dynamics and some new interaction. I like Robert Downey Jr. a lot, but it will be nice to see him not be the center of attention in every movie and give some other people a chance to shine.
7) The Falcon. Did you catch the touch of red in his wings/costume at the end? Cannot wait to see him more in action.
8) Floating city. So awesome. Nice harkening to Avengers 159 (as well as some other Marvel events). As stated previously, I also wish they caught it when it fell though.

Martinex1 said...

As stated above I loved it, but
also here are a few things that did distract me a bit and I questioned a little (I could be totally wrong though and need to see it again):

1)Vision's history. Like I said above, Vision was by far one of my favorite parts of the movie. But in retrospect there are some things I think I will miss. Wonder Man's brainwaves. Possible Human Torch connection. Quicksilver's distrust of him.
2) Vision and Thor's hammer. This was a high point of the movie (both hammer scenes), but at the same time I felt like the shorthand that Vision is "worthy" undercut the Avengers' growth in trusting him. His evolution into a trusted ally seemed shortened.
3) Vision's powers. Just show me more. I cannot wait until the next movie to see more. When he put his hand through some of the Ultron robots, it was hard to see. My wife, who does not really know the Vision, didn't really know he was disrupting them with his intangibility. I wish there were a couple more scenes slowing this down or showing him going through walls (or maybe I missed it).
4) Final Ultron Takedown/Robot Battles. Sometimes the robots seemed so weak. A single punch and they fall apart. If that were the case, I would expect civilians out with baseball bats. Also, I wondered why they didn't really show the final destruction of the last Ultron that Vision confronts. Just a flash of bright light. Did I miss something there? Does that insinuate that Ultron did not get destroyed?
5) Hawkeye's Purpose. I did not mind him having a family as much as I thought I might. I was okay with that. I just felt that some part of the story got cut. When Tony and Cap are at odds, Hawkeye's wife talks to Clint and encourages him that this is his team and he needs to help the others work it out. But I never see that happen. I thought for sure Hawkeye would help them bond somehow (again did I miss something, some line of dialog)? I actually thought when Nick Fury showed up at the farmhouse, and Nick gave the pep talk, that should have somehow come from Hawkeye. I did like Hawkeye's interaction with Wanda and Pietro though.
6) Tony and Ultron. I don't mind that Tony created Ultron, but I would have liked to have seen some more direct interaction. Some Father/Son time. I thought it was a nice touch early on between Jarvis and Ultron, and how Ultron's fear was affecting him. The angle that Tony as a dichotomy is extremely interesting and would have liked to have seen that actually confronted between the two characters.

Overall, I actually enjoyed it more than the first one. I am seeing it again soon.

Martinex1 said...

Doug, I read somewhere and there was a quote from somebody involved with the film (Feig or Whedon maybe?) that it is not the same gauntlet as the one in Asgard, insinuating there are two...?

Doug said...

Unless they have a good explanation, Martinex, then that's sloppy writing. We've seen it. What, supposed to forget it?

I told my son today that I think the Infinity Gauntlet films will incorporate elements of both that graphic novel as well as the Korvac Saga. By that time, there will be so many heroes, and I think the Collector will be back to play a major role, it makes sense (at least to me).


Anonymous said...

Well, I haven't seen it, but it seems like everyone here likes it (which is a change from the rest of the internet, where the reviews have been rather mixed). A couple of the things you mentioned were touched on in Tuesday's (May 5) episode of Agents of SHIELD: the mysterious Theta Protocol that Coulson was hiding from everyone (including Melinda) was the construction of the new Helicarrier; and when Coulson wondered why Gonzalez didn't trust him, Gonzalez talked about how the Avengers trusted Stark, even as he was building Ultron right under their noses.

One of the biggest complaints about the movie seems to be the treatment of Black Widow...I was curious to know my fellow BABers' reactions to that. (As I said, I haven't seen it, but saying that Narasha is a "monster" because she can't have children seems like a weird message...especially for a "feminist" like Joss Whedon.)

Mike Wilson

Dr. Oyola said...

I liked it less than I enjoyed it, and hope to get a chance this weekend to write up a comment with a detailed response

Doug said...

Mike --

RE: the Widow. Yes, the "monster" comment was played up a bit, but I thought it was in regard to the general state of a) being a killer whether justified or not -- in comparison to Banner's Hulk, and b) to her state of "abnormality", perhaps thinking she was not a complete woman.

I was not put off by these revelations and for the most part thought it added some layers to her character.

As Martinex has mentioned, one of the flaws of the film is perhaps the final cut. It will be interesting to see once this hits video if there is a full-length treatment. Now again, this puppy runs 2 hours and 33 minutes. But allegedly there is over 60 minutes of tape on the floor somewhere. Assuming that's not all retakes and outtakes, I'm thinking that's a whole lot of usable story that didn't get used.

And anyone who is privy to more information in that regard, please share. I've certainly not exhaustively researched the matter.


Martinex1 said...

I agree with Doug on the Widow comment; until I read the complaints on line I had understood the term "monster" referring to her own perception and experience of being a programmed killer. Overall, I thought Widow was really an interesting part of the film, and a character that showed a lot of change and depth.

Earlier, I mentioned the Infinity Gauntlet and a comment by one of the film's producers. It comes from an article in CinemaBlend by Eric Eisenberg quoting an interview with Kevin Feige, it reads:

"Feige made this fascinating reveal towards the end of the interview, and with The Avengers: Age of Ultron now out in theaters, I can finally write about it! Being one of the die-hard Marvel fans that I mentioned earlier, I asked Feige if the presence of the Infinity Gauntlet in the mid-credits sequence was a rewrite in continuity or something else entirely, and he explained that nothing is being overwritten. Or as he put it,

'There are two different gloves. That was not Odin’s vault that you see at the end'."

Humanbelly said...

It is, of course, the legendary "Infinity-plus-1 Gauntlet", remembered from the playground-debate days of yore. . .

Sheesh-- every time we have a great topic, I find myself buried up to me elbows off-blog. . .

Liked the movie immensely-- but the viewing experience was awful at our theater. (During the entire hallucination sequence there was a two-year-old throwing a tantrum down house-right, and another singing at the top of her lungs down house-left, for instance).

Gonna give an Amen, Sister to Karen on her geek-out moment w/ Thor, Vizh, & Iron Man blasting away full-throttle on Ultron. It was a solid "Oh YEAAAAAAH!" bounce in my seat experience!


Anonymous said...

Okay, so I guess the "monster" comment wasn't as bad as some people made it out to be. Apparently, the forced sterilization thing came from the comics (from one of the Black Widow miniseries by Richard K. Morgan about a decade ago, which I haven't read); in a weird (or fitting) coincidence, I ran across this interview with Morgan.

Also, I'm not sure who all here follows Flash/Arrow, but there's news about the spinoff show, which is apparently being called Legends of Tomorrow. Just thought I'd mention it.

Mike Wilson

Anonymous said...

Oh, that 3-pronged attack was so cool!

Anyway, I did not like Black Widow being captured and monologues at (even if Ultron ripping Ultron was a nice touch) or the fact that the Avengers could just walk in and rescue her without obvious opposition. Also, I thought Banner/Widow semi-romance was contrived and lacked significant payoff, good "monster" exchange and well scene notwithstanding. I liked the origin stuff, though, and she's a great action character.

Did you know ScarJo was pregnant during filming? CGI & stunt doubles hid it, and may explain why she was captured and spent a decent amount of time cooling down the Hulk.

Speaking of the big guy, he's my favorite Marvel character. I loved that he was the breakout character in the 1st Avengers movie. I was actually okay with his reduced role here, and he got a great moment when he tossed Ultron out of the quinjet. I wish it was clear that he was only knocked out by Iron Man because he was coming down from his rage and was about to turn back to Banner (at least, that's how I rationalized it :).

I really, really want to see an Avengers film with the new team. Just them, no more members. I think the Infinity War movies might start w/ them and have Thor, Hulk, & Iron Man come back when all seems lost (maybe at the end of part 1).

- Mike Loughlin

Anonymous said...

Avengers Assemble!!!

They killed Pietro? Nooooo.....

I certainly was surprised when Quicksilver bit the dust. In the comics he's an unpleasant hothead but the movie version is more likable. I was kinda bummed when he got killed.

Hmm like my namesake Mike Laughlin the 'big guy' is also one of my favourite characters but I agree with his reduced role here - it would have been too easy for Hulk to simply smash Ultron at the end. The fight with Stark in the Hulkbuster armor was epic, but that armored fist repeatedly slamming jackhammer-style into Hulk's face and Tony Stark saying 'go to sleep, go to sleep' kinda felt like I was watching a roadrunner/Wile E. Coyote cartoon!

Speaking of Ultron, I think James Spader did a great job voicing him, even if he was a bit chatty for my taste. His moving mouth parts reminded me of an insect's mandibles somehow. I loved when Ultron said 'Invaders create Avengers', I guess an oblique nod to our WW11 heroes.

Of course, the real highlight for me was the Vision; when Paul Bettany emerged in all his red-skinned glory I said 'yeah, now this is the real Avengers!'. Some persons have complained about Vision's phasing powers not being adequately displayed, but hey if this movie version is powered by an infinity gem then controlling mass and density are just the beginning baby! Similarly, I've always felt Wanda's powers were never fully defined in the comics (hex power?). Here, she seems to possess mind and energy manipulation powers.

Although Thor is off to Asgard and the Hulk is in self imposed exile, the new members (Scarlet Witch, War Machine, Falcon, Vision) should make for an interesting new dynamic. Hawkeye being a family man was a revelation, but it was good to see him get some much needed character development here.

All in all this was a good sequel. Can't wait for Avengers 3 and all the rest of the Marvel movies!

- Mike 'Only quibble? Vision should have had black eyes with white pupils' from Trinidad & Tobago.

William said...

Loved this movie. One the best (if not THE best) comic book / superhero movie ever made.

Some things I liked:

1. Ultron. He's always been my favorite Avengers villain, and I thought they did him justice. He looked pretty comic accurate and his evil plan was sufficiently evil. His voice and personality were a little off, and his animated mouth was kind of weird, but somehow it all worked.

2. The Vision. I never thought I'd EVER see The Vision in a movie at all, let alone done so faithfully to the comics source material. I was totally geeking out.

3. Hulk vs. Iron Man. It went way above and beyond Hulk vs. Thor from the first movie by a factor of 10. Totally epic superhero throw down.

4. The Avengers! They are all awesome. Every character is so faithfully executed and well acted. And the team dynamics are great. A comic nerd couldn't ask for any more.

Some things I would have changed:

1. Quicksilver dying. That was unexpected, and a pretty big bummer. Pietro has been a long-time favorite of mine since I was a kid. I would have liked to see more of him in the future films. Ah, well. There's always X-Men Apocalypse.

2. Hawkeye the husband and father. Huh? That came pretty far out of left field. I believe the Hawkeye in the Ultimate Marvel Universe had a family, but they were all horribly murdered. Glad they didn't go that route in this flick.

3. The Hulk / Black Widow romance. Another plot twist that came out of nowhere. They should have had a little foreshadowing in the first movie if they were going to spring that on us in the sequel.

4. Where was Falcon? They had Sam at the party and then he disappeared. War Machine stuck around. Why didn't Falc? They mentioned some lame excuse that he had to keep looking for Bucky, but I don't think that would take precedence over saving the world from a robot invasion.

But those are all very small nits that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the movie at all. Overall a great movie, that I will watch multiple times.

Abe Lucas said...

With the emphasis on rescuing civilians and a couple of eerie-looking building explosions, I wonder if there was a conscious nod to the real-life heroes of that terrible day.

On a much lighter note, did anyone catch a glimpse of the big band playing in Cap's Witch-induced hallucination? "The Roy Thomas Players." Awesome!

The movie, the discussions here, and the BAB archives have finally pushed me to filling some holes in my Avengers collection. I picked up the Absolute Vision tpbs (I have most of vol 1 in floppy form but none of vol 2), the tpb, #190 was my first-ever Avengers ish, and the Once and Future Kang which is completely unknown by me. I'm a big fan of Stern's run on the book but needed to do some catching up.

Abe Lucas said...

Sorry, incomplete thought there (it's early in Miami): that should have read the Heart of Stone tpb. #190 was my very-first Avengers comic.

Karen said...

With a week to sit back and digest my two viewings, I'm left with mostly good thoughts, but also a feeling that the film was rushed in many places, and would have benefited from an extra 30 minutes or so just to flesh out some things. I do hope we'll get an extended version on DVD.

Regarding the "two" infinity gauntlets -honestly, I think Marvel is just back-pedaling. My guess is, when they put the gauntlet in Odin's trophy room back in the first Thor film, they thought it was a neat gag, and didn't have plans yet for Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet for later films. Now though, they have to rationalize it, rather than just say, we goofed. Silly.

I don't see any problem with the Hulk's power level. That's the Hulk. That's the guy I've been reading about all these decades. And I like that. All the heroes are pretty much at the same power level as the comics, and I am so glad! I spent years watching Lou Ferrigno barely be able to flip a car over. No thank you. Before the first Thor film came out, I was worried they would dumb-down his powers, not let him fly, not let him call the lightning. I nearly jumped out of my seat when he did all of those things in the first fight scene! No, for me, all the power levels are just perfect.

The Black Widow controversy is unfortunate. I read that scene as Natasha reaching out to Bruce, explaining how her training, being turned into a killer, made her as much if not more of a monster than he. When he brought up the fact that he couldn't give her a family, then she tells him she's not capable of having children. She's not saying she's a monster because of that. She's saying she's a monster because of all the things she's done. However, I think her line about being a monster comes after that and here's where everyone flips out. But it can also be interpreted as her trying to connect on another level with Bruce, as being damaged. Everything she went through at the Red Room left her damaged and screwed up, just like his transformations have screwed his life up. In any case, Widow still comes across as a strong character, although this romance did feel rushed to me.

Martinex mentioned that Hawkeye seemed to be set up to bring the Avengers back together, and then Nick Fury steps in to that role. I agree. Also, earlier in the movie, we get what appears to be a sub-plot that never really formed, with Hawkeye saying "I don't have a girlfriend" and later he's on the phone (presumably with his wife) and Cap asks "who is that?" and Hawk says "Girlfriend" and we are supposed to be suspicious of him, but nothing is built of this, and next thing you know, we're at his farm being introduced to his wife. It seems like there should have been another incident or two in-between.

I do think that we'll see Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor rejoin the team to save the day in Infinity War part 2. Although it sounds like everyone this side of Irving Forbush will be in the picture. The over-stuffing can be fun but can also deprive us of real character moments.

Well, on to Ant-Man, I guess...not really psyched about this one. Much more interested in Mad Max and Tomorrowland, really.

Edo Bosnar said...

Haven't seen movie yet. Must. Resist. Temptation. To. Read. BAB post...
Nope, can't do it - it's like a moth to flame. I read every damn word Karen, Doug and everyone wrote and the film's thoroughly spoiled for me and you know what? I don't care. It's never impacted my enjoyment of any one of these superhero flicks...

Doug said...

I am going for a second viewing on Friday the 22nd with my sons. It's my goal to revisit this post with some more post-viewing thoughts. I've appreciated everyone's comments on plot gaps/continuity issues -- it will give me something to hone in on.

Additionally, by then the flick will be in one of the smaller side theaters and my guess is the sound will be better. I saw it last Monday in a big old grand auditorium, well over 100 years old. The sound is of course quite modern, but I don't believe it's adjusted correctly. I think the bass mutes some of the higher pitched sounds and that can garble some of the dialogue.



david_b said...

Finally saw it yesterday in 2D.., pretty much agree with everyone's comments.

My gf had bought me a large Pepsi and a large popcorn.., to celebrate my birthday this week, soooooo unfortunately I found myself actually running out for TWO quick bathroom breaks.

First off, they could have left Pietro and Wanda out and still had a solid outing here. Other than some minor splashes of additional 'powers' and a tender scene for Clint, they virtually added nothing other than another half-hour to the movie.

I'd love to have had Ant-Man instead, like Karen, I'm not too excited with the Scott Lang movie coming yet, nor with having my fav Pym hero YellowJacket as a villain.

All in all, a solid if not **LOUD** and long 2nd chapter in favorite Avengers big-screen adventures. The standard team characters were all great, still wish ol' Clint would actually look (costume-wise) more like our Silver/Bronze Hawkeye, but it was nice he actually got to resonate in this film more.

As other reviewers have noted, this flick basically only had two speeds..: FAST and FURIOUS battles, or somber character moments. It still moved alright but it also seemed like it had a lot of muddled character noise going on.., like 'Ok, just who am I focusing on now in this scene..?

All in all, I could have easily waited for the DVD..., but seeing my birthday is this week, it was a nice treat.

Great comments everyone.

Now on to JJ Abram's blockbuster 'Star Wars' update later this year.

david_b said...

Oh, FORGOT to make one final comment, and it's a bonafide groan-illiciter..:

'..Doesn't this wonderful flick make you wish that awesome Avengers-EMH series was still on..?'

Yepper, me too.

Edo Bosnar said...

Finally got around to seeing it - which is actually unusual for me, as I've seen every other one of these months (or more) after they opened. And not counting the premiere of an indie film last year directed by a friend of mine, it's the first time I've seen a feature film in a theater since Fellowship of the Ring. Yep, it' been that long...

Anyway, I enjoyed it. Still like the first one better, but this one was quite awesome for the most part. My only criticisms can be broken down into a minor and major one: the minor one has to do with style. I really didn't like that scene near the end, in that abandoned church, when the Avengers were fighting all of the Ultron minions and it went into this slow-mo pan. Just thought it was a little too over the top, even for a superhero flick. The major one would be something Karen and Doug pointed out in their original post: Stark's accountability for the whole mess. The other Avengers really let it go pretty quick (they actually stayed mad at Wanda a lot longer for messing with their minds) and so, apparently, did the rest of the world. I mean, come on: Ultron, among other things, basically annihilated the capital city of a country, and Stark is at least partially responsible for that.

Otherwise, I liked the things everybody else mentioned, i.e., Vision (yes, Karen, it seems to me he's going to assume Warlock's role as this larger MU movieverse story unfolds), the little bits of often funny banter between the characters (Karen - I LOVED that bit when Tony uttered the contrite "sorry" after knocking out Hulk's tooth!), and the repeated emphasis on saving lives. This is so damned important, one of the most important factors about superhero comics, and I'm glad it's placed in the forefront in the Marvel movies. And I also liked the Hawkeye characterization and his family - it's a really refreshing twist. Also, Quicksilver. Yes, he wasn't obnoxious like in the comics, and that actually made his death a bit sad, and meaningful. Let's hope it stays that way, i.e., meaningful, and that, unlike in the comics nowadays, he's not resurrected...

Abe Lucas said...

"the minor one has to do with style. I really didn't like that scene near the end, in that abandoned church, when the Avengers were fighting all of the Ultron minions and it went into this slow-mo pan. Just thought it was a little too over the top, even for a superhero flick."

...and yet that very same slow-mo pan was hands down the greatest single moment in the entire film for me. I loved it *because* it was over the top and to my mind, that scene was the very essence of what the likes of Jack Kirby or George Perez would do in a full page that would thrill young me. Cinematically speaking, yet another conventional, "high-octane", knock-down, drag-out slugfest would have been exhausting--we'd already seen so many up to that point and I loved it that they went with the "poetic" and "superheroic" finale as they did. Absolutely wonderful.

A close second to the slow-mo pan was the heroic arrival of the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier to do what so many of us appreciated about AOU: the rescue of civilians.

Doug said...

As I said above, I did see Avengers again on the 22nd, and it was indeed in a smaller theater. The sound was so much better than the first time. I believe I caught everything other than maybe one or two lines. The Klaw scene in particular was much better.

For the most part I'll stand by comments I've made prior. I am really looking forward to the Vision having an expanded role. In regard to that character "standing in" for Warlock, don't you all think that there has to be something to the fact that Peter Quill could hold an Infinity gem and not go mad? Who is going to be his father if not a character like Warlock? And I'm still troubled that we've seen that cocoon twice now in the hands of the Collector...


Anonymous said...

I finally got around to seeing it with my son last night in a near empty theater and thoroughly enjoyed. And like Edo, I read all the great spoiler comments here and it didn't impact my enjoyment a bit. May have enhanced it.

I was going to end my post with "Can't wait for your second thoughts Doug" but you just did that. :-)


Karen said...

The idea of Warlock being Starlord's dad just doesn't make much sense to me -they would have to really alter his origin to the point where it wouldn't make much sense for him to still be Warlock. But what if Starlord's father was someone else who we know from the Captain Mar-Vell and Warlock tales, who has a connection to Thanos -say Starfox? Eros is Thanos' brother, is a Titan (Eternal), gets around, loves the ladies...that could work.

I'd still like to see Warlock, but I do feel like much of his origin/role was usurped by Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Doug said...

Starfox would work for me. That would make sense.

But then I just think it's sloppy to put out these "Easter eggs" that don't see fruition. Don't throw the fans a bone unless there's some follow-through.


Edo Bosnar said...

Starfox does make sense, Karen.
Personally, I was thinking that Starlord's mysterious dad could even be Mar-Vell. I know the movie Capt. Marvel is going to be Carol Danvers, which I think is fine (in fact, I'm stoked about that), but it would still be nice if Mar-Vell were worked into the Marvel movieverse, if only in flashbacks or as a supporting character.
Anyway, I sympathize with the desire to see Warlock on the big screen, but then again, I would have such incredibly high expectations. As good as the Marvel movies have been, I really wonder if they could do Starlin's original saga justice.

Karen said...

Edo, I also thought about them bringing in Mar-Vell to be Starlord's dad, but I'm wondering if they are shying away from using him, since as you mentioned, they will be bringing in Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel. But I could see him appearing just as Mar-Vell...who knows. Starfox/Eros seemed to fit as he is known to fool around quite a bit, and his personality and that of Quill/Starlord seem similar in some ways. I also wondered if they might bring in another Guardian, like Starhawk, as his dad, but I think his history is even more convoluted.Or maybe they bring in an Inhuman or Eternal - there are certainly a number of candidates.

Regarding the inclusion of "Easter Eggs" - I think we often put too much meaning on them. My guess is that they are frequently put in because someone thought "Wouldn't this be cool?" and put little more thought behind it. I think that's why we saw an infinity gauntlet in Thor. I don't think there was any grand plan in place other than it looked cool, and now the Marvel movie folks are furiously back-pedaling, pretending it was all part of a grand scheme. An interview with James Gunn at Cinema Blend about the cocoon seems to imply that Warlock's cocoon falls into this category (sorry Doug). To quote:"Yeah, there’s a cocoon that’s exactly like Adam Warlock’s. I wasn’t really thinking that much when I put that in. That was my idea to put that in there. They’re like, ‘What should we put in?" So I went in the Marvel handbook and like just picked cool things that looked neat to put into the boxes. It looked like Adam’s Warlock cocoon, so now everyone thinks he’s out of there and you know… I don’t know." Here's a link:

Maybe he's just trying to fool everyone. Who knows.

Martinex1 said...

I like the idea of his father being Starhawk. That was the first thing that crossed my mind when I first saw the movie. I thought his dying mother describing the father as an angel fits the image. Later in the movie the Nova Corp leader describes the father 's genetics as something they have never seen. So he cannot be Kree right? Or did I hear that wrong? And Yondu (who was a complete miss for me) does say they didn't turn young Peter over because his dad was an ***hole. That all kind of fits for me. There were many times in original Guardians' stories that Starhawk was disliked by his team; especially when he played the "one who knows" card. I think it could also leave an opening for Quill's mother to come back as Aleta. If i recall correctly, the time gem hasn't been shown, which if Starhawk possessed it, he could be the one who knows because he keeps cycling through time.

Of course it could be Martinex too!

Edo Bosnar said...

Starhawk is an interesting possibility that never occurred to me, although Karen's right about his convoluted back-story - that would really have to be pared down for the films. As for Martinex, I suppose that would explain why Starlord wasn't affected by the Infinity Gem, because he has some kind of crystalline component in his DNA and ... all right, I think my glaring ignorance of biochemistry and how organic molecules work has just been exposed for all the world to see...
Of course, maybe Martinex1 wasn't referring to the comic book character, but rather someone closer to home? Just how much do we know about this Martinex1, who claims his name is "Mike S." in the real world? Does the 'S' stand for starchild? ... :P

By the way, my original purpose in re-opening this conversation yet again was to add how much I how much I love Mark Ruffalo as Banner/the Hulk. It's too bad he's been sort of phased out for the time being. Also, I really like the friendship that developed between Stark and Banner. It kind of makes me wish for an "Iron Man & Hulk" movie, where the two of them go on a road trip or something as a vacation from Avengering, and then bump into the Elf with a Gun - who in this version would actually be an agent of Thanos (I'm only half-kidding about this...)

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